Regional Housing Legal Services (RHLS) and the Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network (PLAN) commissioned a study to research the impact of expanding universal access to counsel for low-income tenants in eviction proceedings in Pennsylvania. The report was prepared by Stout Risius Ross, LLC (Stout), a nationally recognized advisory firm. While PLAN’s member programs already provide legal representation to thousands of low-income households facing eviction each year, the Stout Report provides an analysis of the benefits and costs of implementing universal access to representation for all low-income tenants facing eviction.
What does universal access to counsel mean for Pennsylvanians?
Universal Access to counsel would ensure that sufficient funding is available so that all eligible tenants facing eviction would have access to counsel, advice, and legal representation throughout the eviction process. Universal access to counsel in Pennsylvania would provide legal support for 17,200 additional tenant families faced with losing their homes each year.
According to the report, expanding universal access to eviction counsel could reduce eviction filings in Pennsylvania by 5% each year and help to benefit and stabilize our communities. Though the study does not measure the precise economic benefit derived from universal access to eviction counsel, it estimates that for every $1 invested in universal access to eviction counsel in Pennsylvania, there is an estimated cost savings of $3 – $6.
- Universal access to eviction counsel in Pennsylvania would help stabilize families and communities by keeping people in their homes.
- Evictions hurt children. Universal access to eviction counsel in Pennsylvania would be an investment in our youth by decreasing the educational, juvenile justice, and child welfare costs associated with children experiencing homelessness.
Health & Wellness
- Keeping people in their homes improves community health. During the COVID-19 pandemic, research models have found that eviction moratoriums likely helped to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 epidemic.
- Universal access to eviction counsel in Pennsylvania improves public health by decreasing the impact of physical and mental health of people in eviction proceedings and excess mortality resulting from homelessness.
- Based on similar analyses, Stout estimates that for every $1 invested in universal access to eviction counsel in Pennsylvania, there is an estimated cost savings of $3 – $6.
- Cities that have universal access to eviction counsel have seen a decrease in eviction filings. Investing in universal access to eviction counsel could decrease eviction filings by 5 percent each year.
- Universal access to eviction counsel in Pennsylvania would save the state money on social services associate with homelessness such as additional law enforcement and incarceration costs.
- Everyone benefits from universal access to eviction counsel. In areas where universal access to eviction counsel has been implemented, housing courts and landlords have saved time and money in eviction proceedings.
- With many homeless shelters full, universal access to eviction counsel in PA would save money. It is far better to keep people housed than to pay for emergency temporary shelter.